Today we come to another story about a baby. We’ve already met the long-anticipated Isaac, now we get to meet sweet little Moses.
Remember the story found in Exodus 1 and 2?
He came at the worst possible time. The relatively small band that originally trekked down to Egypt from Canaan had “increased and become even more numerous” (Ex. 1:20). So what did Pharaoh do? Something horrific. “Throw all the boys into the Nile.” He worried more about his own glory, his own kingdom, than Joseph’s God’s. Oh, how the Hebrew mothers wept. How they cried out to God each time they heard the splash of a baby hitting the deadly waters.
Do you see the parallel to Jesus? A king (Herod) who should’ve been seeking the Messiah, seeks his own glory instead. Then Herod, like Pharaoh before him, commands all Hebrew boys be killed. Ironic that Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt. The former place of death becomes a refuge, and a great darkness overcomes the Promised Land which should be a safe haven. But a light was coming.
Why would God choose to send his deliverers at such impossible times?
Isn’t this just like our lives? The van fails to start when I’ve finally corralled four kids in and we’re running late. A major appliance dies (like, for example, our fridge which is barely working right now) when the bank account looks as empty as Mother Hubbard’s cupboard. A migraine strikes as soon as a houseful of dinner guests arrive.
Why now, Lord? Let the car break down when I don’t have anywhere important to go. Let the fridge die when we have back-up money. I’ll take the migraine later, please. This may sound too brutally honest, but sometimes I think my way would be better.
But it’s not. Victory shines brighter when all earthly options disappear. That’s when we KNOW God delivered us—not ourselves, not chance, but him.
Back to Moses. Sure seems to be no hope of that little baby delivering anybody. He was doomed to death from the moment he was born.
The suspense builds, though, because Moses’ mother hides him from the Egyptians. How does she do that? I wonder at her fear every time the child cries too loudly, or when she has to wash a dirty diaper in the river. The constant, burdensome terror she must have lived under.
We know she can’t hide him forever. What will she do?
But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile (Gen. 2:3).
Seems almost blasé. She just grabs papyrus, weaves a basket, covers it in tar and pitch… Easy peasy.
Not so much!
Three things about this awe me.
Where did she get the tar and pitch idea? It seems like we’ve seen tar and pitch saving someone from water before. Do you remember? The ark! Noah’s big boat was covered with the stuff. Maybe she knows the story and borrows Noah’s idea. The little basket becomes an ark for baby Moses. Inside he is safe, protected from watery death.
By placing her baby in the Nile, Moses’ mother obeys the letter of the law. Isn’t that amazing? I can just see her. “You want me to throw my boy in the Nile? Okay, Pharaoh. You didn’t say I couldn’t put him in a waterproof basket first.” Go Moses’ mother!
The danger. Yes, she covers the basket with pitch, but do you think she is perfectly confident it will protect her helpless little one? I would’ve doubted. What if a big wave splashes over him? What about rapids? Plus, other dangers like crocodiles, venomous snakes, hippopotami, and more nasty critters could hurt or kill him. And what if an Egyptian guard spots the precious basket?
How amazing that Moses’ mother sets her beloved son “amongst the reeds.” A huge act of faith. No wonder sister Miriam follows and watches.
Another Father I know also sent his Son into a world of deadly danger. And that same father made sure his son fulfilled his purpose to set his people free–kinda like he did with Moses.
What happens next?
No crocodiles eat Moses. No wave drowns him. Instead, God gently guides the little ark. Dangers loom all around, but the vulnerable baby stays safe, arriving exactly where God planned. After being chosen by Pharaoh’s daughter, she gives him back to his mother to nurse him. How that mama must have rejoiced.
So many events seem to work against Moses. And so many worked against Jesus, too.
- Mary is a virgin. That alone is a pretty big obstacle.
- She should be stoned for adultery.
- The long, cold journey to Bethlehem on a donkey could cause a miscarriage.
- The dirty stable with no midwife.
- Evil Herod’s murderous command.
But like with Moses, God gently orchestrates everything for the savior to be born safely. Despite all the dangers surrounding them, before morning comes, young Mary holds an even greater Savior than Moses in her arms–the Savior of the world, who didn’t just set people free from an earthly slave-master, but from an even more treacherous tyrant. Sin.
Do you see? God promised a savior would come through the seed of the woman. He narrowed that line down to a descendant of Abraham. Even when those descendants languished in slavery for hundreds of years, nothing could permanently halt God’s plan. Not Pharaoh’s wicked law, nor Herod’s, nor any of the other obstacles blocking the way. He loves us too much to let anything keep Jesus from us.
Do you know the baby in the manger? Do you belong to Jesus? Have you ever thought how amazing it is that you even heard the gospel? Our loving Father orchestrated everything in your life for you to know him. And he continues to lovingly guide you.
A Protestant writing called the Heidelberg Catechism puts it this way,
He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Dear friends, all the things that happen in your life are for your good. They may seem scary or overwhelming. Insurmountable or desperate. Or just annoying and bothersome. But he’s got you.
And even though sometimes it may seem hopeless—nothing can get in the way of his path for your life.
As I look around, I find many dark, painful obstacles in others’ lives as well as my own. It’s so easy to lose hope and think God must’ve stepped out for a while, let things spin on their own. If he really loves me, why does all this icky junk keep happening? Today, find comfort in the fact that God hasn’t forgotten you. It will all work together for your good. He promises it will. His promise never fails. And if you get the chance, remind a struggling friend that God’s got them too.
Remember, he loves you like there’s no tomorrow.
Shine Your Light: How have you seen God lead you safely through danger? Please share. I’d love to hear and I know it would encourage others!